Today has been one of those days where I have just wanted to bite someone. I haven’t been angry yet, not like people have been telling me to expect anyway, but it’s been coming. Thursday, I stopped in at the grocery store and ran into a friend I hadn’t seen since the night after Sam died. She came up to the house and visited to lend her support. I wasn’t mad that I hadn’t seen her, but at the same time I didn’t really want to to engage with her, so the first time I saw her I hurriedly turned around and went down another aisle. As I was headed to the checkout, though, she was right in front of me and I couldn’t really avoid her.
So she gave me a hug and asked how I was doing and all of that, and it was fine. Then, though, she started telling me about a situation a mutual friend had gotten herself into and about how awful it has been for her (the friend). And it is awful-pain is pain and loss is loss, and I really feel for the mutual friend. That part wasn’t the issue. The problem was that Friend 1 looked me dead in the eye and told me, “You need to count your blessings.” Honestly, for a few seconds I was actually stunned into silence. It seemed like long, long minutes as I processed her words in my brain, comparing the two very different situations, trying to come up with a response that was even remotely appropriate, but in reality it wasn’t that long, maybe 30 seconds. And as gently and kindly as I could, I said, “Forgive me if I don’t think of my son being dead as a blessing.”
The look on her face was horrified. Shocked. Almost mad. I can’t remember what she said, something like “Oh, that’s not what I meant!” and then she hurriedly started asking me how the kids are doing, especially Josie, and then gave me a hug and almost ran out of the store. So she left me in tears, trying to pay for the damn groceries and get out of the store before I completely lost it.
The thing is, I know this woman. I know that she didn’t mean to be insensitive. I know that she was only trying to “help” somehow, but it left me feeling so, so angry that I wanted to punch her (hence part of my grief letter yesterday). What I am tired of, already, is how many people say things like that, or things like “How are you?” and I just want to scream at all of them today. “How the fuck do you think I am?” I want to scream! “How do you think my 7-year-old daughter is ‘holding up’ as she has to deal with this devastating loss of the big brother who was her life? How do you think my 12-year-old is dealing with the fact that his brother voluntarily chose to leave him?”
And I am tired, ya’ll. Tired of people telling me I have to be the one to provide understanding and accomodation for the words other people. They justify thoughtless, hurtful behavior by telling me,”Oh, you have to understand people don’t know what to say,” or “People just want to offer comfort and don’t know how to offer it” or any one of those things that places the responsibility for being hurt directly on me. Under other circumstances, I would usually be the first to give someone the benefit of the doubt and try to understand the intent and give them some grace, because I know well that we ALL say things without thinking. But this isn’t other circumstances, and I am pissed.
Yes. I am angry. I don’t know if I am angry at this woman, or those well-meaning people, or if they are easy targets. I can’t be mad at Sam; maybe that will come in time, maybe not. But I am so, so angry at this situation that I can barely breathe tonight. I have my grief class in a little while, and perhaps they will be able to help me through this. If not, someone might get their nose bitten off and it’s not going to be me.